Visitors to Lisbon marvel at the charm of the city, its culture and history, and its repetitive use of the rainbow’s most cheerful color.
Yellow has become the Portuguese capital’s unofficial color, as the sunny pigment is repeatedly displayed on building facades, tram cars, and the walls of the city’s finest restaurants.
Have an affinity for this happy hue? We’re showing you the best places to spot yellow in Lisbon.
Lisbon’s 28 trams are legendary — in part because they’re charismatic, slow-moving, and emblematic of the city itself, and partially because they’re so bright and beautiful with their shiny yellow cars. For a fun experience, catch a ride on these iconic trams and explore the sprawl of the city. For perfectly timed shots of the sunny yellow vehicles, hop off, keep pace, and set up your shot. Use a quick shutter speed to capture the mellow-yellow tram as it snakes its way through the narrow streets of Alfama.
Praça do Comércio
Known in English as “Commerce Square,” the Praça do Comércio hugs the Tagus River and acts as a stunning focal point for visitors and locals alike. The triumphal Rua Augusta Arch frames the green-weathered copper statue of King José I, but the draw is really the square’s delightfully sunny yellow facade, which feels like it extends forever. While the square is fun to photograph at any time of day, visiting in the early morning, when the light is soft and dreamy, is your best bet.
Alfama, one of Lisbon’s oldest districts, is a gorgeous maze of narrow streets, colorful buildings, and steep cobblestone slopes. Once located outside of Lisbon’s boundaries and associated with poverty and crime, Alfama has since been welcomed back to Lisbon proper. While the neighborhood is a delight for aimless wandering, be sure to bring along your camera.
Many of the houses in Alfama are painted a soft pastel hue, but there are a few that feature a bright, sunny yellow. Enjoy your time in Lisbon’s most eclectic and charming neighborhood.
Just a short distance from Lisbon lies the charming district of Sintra. This mountainous region is home to the colorful, charismatic, and even cartoonish Pena Palace, which was built on a hilltop in 1493 after an apparition of the Virgin Mary was spotted in the very same location. A Portuguese national monument, one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Pena Palace is a wonderland for photographers. Sporting a bright-yellow facade and cherry-red towers, there’s no other palace quite like it.
Bairro Alto Facades
If you visit Lisbon, it’s likely that you’ll spend some time in the city’s central district, Bairro Alto. This neighborhood was built in medieval style along a primary and secondary axis, so there are plenty of tiny streets and surprise turns. While the area is dominated by tall, three-story dwellings patchworked with windows, each is distinctly unique. Stroll the streets to spot these buildings their distinct azulejos (decorative tile panels), and, of course, their colorful doors and facades. Over the course of your wanderings, you’re likely to find a bright, sunny yellow painted on tiles, adorning doors, framing windows, and even on entire buildings. Keep your eyes peeled and your camera handy!
Wander around the city long enough and you’ll likely spot a quiosque at the edge of a park or near a tram stop. These structures (known as “kiosks” in English) date back to the 1800s and were originally built to serve refreshments to the city’s residents.
That tradition still endures today, with quiosques offering a host traditional refreshments such as orchata (similar to horchata, but made with almonds), mazagran (a sweetened coffee drink), and capilé (a sweetened beverage made with spleenwart), in addition to other local favorites: lemonade and Port wine. Snacks, soups, and alcohol may also be on the menu. Head to Largo da Sé and look opposite the cathedral for Lisbon’s most cheerful quiosque.
Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga
Assuming a more mellow hue, Lisbon’s National Museum of Ancient Art is the perfect place for a photo-opp and a bit of afternoon art appreciation. As the former palace of Lisbon’s Count of Alvor, the museum has been exposing the public to fine art since 1868. The extensive collection houses everything from paintings, textiles, furniture, drawings, metalwork, and sculptures that date back to the Middle Ages. If you visit, be sure to snap a photo of its facade, and then step inside to visit the Saint Vincent Panels, which date back to the 1400s and are inarguably the museum’s finest asset.
While your search of Lisbon’s yellow buildings will likely yield plenty of photos, there’s no doubt you’ll be tired and hungry after all your exploration. Adhere to the “yellow theme” with a visit to either Tavares or Valle Flôr.
Tavares, located at Rua da Misericordia 35-37, lays claim to the title of Lisbon’s oldest restaurant. Regardless of whether it is or not, it’s worth the visit — their dishes are cooked fresh with local produce, and when the chandeliers are lit, the interior glows with a warm, yellow light. Valle Flôr, on the other hand, is located in the grand Pestana Palace Hotel and offers one of Lisbon’s most beautiful dining rooms. Featuring a menu replete with European, Mediterranean, and Portuguese dishes, Valle Flôr offers diners a soft-yellow surroundings in the general opulence of this former 19th century palace.